phases of me

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{the phases of me in the story of my husband’s death}

1/ the me in my final moments with my husband before he left, the goodbye that I didn’t know was actually goodbye. he kissed my left cheek twice in a row and then rubbed my upper outer arms up and down and told me he was just trying to reassure me. he had gone to bed early tired, and this was the second time i had found him awake in the living room overnight saying he couldn’t sleep because his stomach was hurting. this final time was 4:30am. I don’t remember what I said in return after he said he was just trying to reassure me. I didn’t know what he meant and thought he was trying to get me not to worry about him not sleeping. I went back to bed to get some more sleep not of course knowing he snuck out the front door and drove away in the dark with his phone turned off about thirty minutes later.

  • Name: unassuming worried naive grouch who just needed more sleep. Wisdom: love is not all knowing no matter how deep and true it is.

2/ the me that couldn’t find him anywhere at 7:29am and knew immediately something was wrong, yet having no idea he was on a road trip driving three thousand miles to the farthest nw corner of america.

  • Name: silent screamer on high alert all throughout my body. Wisdom: there is only so much you can do at any given moment no matter how much you care

3/ the me that only slept 3 ½ hours the first six days he was missing.

  • Name: terrorized wife and mother in flight or fight mode constantly. Wisdom: the human body can survive extreme conditions we never thought we would face

4/ the me that called the police and filed a missing persons report in which they misquoted me and said I thought my husband had recently shown signs of depression, and that misquote hit the local news and newspaper.

  • Name: angry teary-eyed bitch. Wisdom: people sometimes push agendas onto the grieving to make themselves look and feel better

5/ the me that began having panic attacks for the first time ever.

  • Name: a little girl scared out of her mind and body. Wisdom: the body always speaks the truth, especially when the mouth can’t open wide

6/ the me that farmed out the children and tried to explain that maybe daddy was having a midlife crisis and just needed time away to think.

  • Name: wishful thinking denier. Wisdom: the kids needed to be shielded

7/ the me that never allowed suicide to enter as a blip on my radar of possibility of what was wrong. I thought the worst case scenario was that he wanted a divorce and we would co- parent well because he is such a kind man and we still loved each other.

  • Name: denial B sides. Wisdom: the he that I knew never considered it as an option either, he wasn’t himself anymore

8/ the me when the two strange cops came to the door at 6pm on the eighteenth day and told me very coldly on my front porch that my husband mr. wood had been found deceased in nevada by a gunshot wound to the head.

  • Name: holy shit mother of the god I don’t believe in. Wisdom: grievers shouldn’t have to educate and advocate all the fucking time

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9/ the me that locked everyone out of the house and gathering my children on each side of me on the living room couch and told them their dada was dead while my older sister sat nearby.

  • Name: having entered hell on earth. Wisdom: you can actually do the unthinkable

10/ the me that sat overlooking a lake and somehow wrote a goodbye poem to him to be read at his military honors service.

  • Name: the great sadness melting my bones. Wisdom: love transcends all time and space and knowing

11/ the me that helped my children say goodbye to the body of their father in a casket and show them his right foot so our youngest would know for sure it was really him, because his hair was cut and colored and he looked like someone else we didn’t know.

  • Name: a wide awake nightmare I was sleepwalking through. Wisdom: you can actually do the unthinkable

12/ the me that went to nevada with the kids and father in law to talk to the detective that was first on the scene, clean out his impounded car, meet the citizen who actually found his body, and then to see where he died and paint a rock that his body was leaning upon.

  • Name: the love child of the twilight zone and an alternate universe. Wisdom: you can go into that dark place and kiss the ground and cry tears of blood and make it back out alive

13/ the me that never found any note but I wish I had found piles of letters for each child.

  • Name: raging tsunami. Wisdom: I know what he would’ve said if he could’ve said it, I know.

14/ the me with some factual probable answers mixed up with strange facts and odd particulars that only leave more questions.

  • Name: mad scientist. Wisdom: not everything can be known fully, or everyone, even that one

15/ the me as a solo parent.

  • Name: juggler and expert ball dropper. Wisdom: I am somehow enough even as I feel maimed and missing vital parts

16/ the me on two anxiety meds twice daily just to function on a decent level.

  • Name: dissociative dating sex bomb. Wisdom: people are fascinating and many are stupid jerks but touch and sex can really help the constant ache of cell deep grief

17/ the me mothering my oldest as he came out to me four ½ months after his Dad died.

  • Name: achy clueless anchor. Wisdom: a child knows themselves better than you know them. Believe them.

18/ the me losing two homes and moving out of state to attempt some kind of new start where we had never lived before.

  • Name: whirlwind survival mama. Wisdom: the stranger on the inside needed a strange land to live in, so that the inside matched the outside to bring some equilibrium

19/ the me that is sitting in darkness with some dusk evening light seeping in while birds chirp and dogs lay sleeping.

  • Name: tentatively hopeful. Wisdom: the silence isn’t always screaming now

20/ the me that doesn’t know me anymore, that doesn’t know the person that was born from this tearing away.

  • Name: Stranger in my skin. Wisdom: I would throw it all away to have him back but somehow the metamorphosis has some beautiful wings that are fluttering open and that slays me and bandages me all in the same movement. How can this be?

{zt 2019}

**inspired in part by prompts from isabel abbott**